Guyana’s Prime Minister and the managers of the nation’s capital have engaged in a public tit for tat over the manning of drainage systems in the city even as the country continues to be pummeled by torrential downpour and the possibility of life-threatening floods.

Prime Minister, Brigadier (R’td) Mark Phillips yesterday issued a stern warning to Mayor Ubraj Narine to bring an immediate end to the “nonchalant approach in managing the drainage and other infrastructure of the city, meant to mitigate flooding during the ongoing rain season”.

The PM was quoted by the Department of Public Information (DPI) as expressing “disgust with the mismanagement of key drainage pumps across the city after impromptu checks made on Sunday evening revealed continuing neglect and dereliction of duty, resulting in undue suffering by residents”.

DPI said that checks revealed that the North Ruimveldt pump which drains areas including Alexander Village and North Ruimveldt was turned off, resulting in flooding from heavy rainfall over a 24- hour period.

Meanwhile, pumps at Church, Cowan and Lamaha Streets, Georgetown and Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara were unattended by operators.

The government’s blaming of City Hall for poor management of drainage mechanisms during times of heavy rainfall and flooding has now become somewhat of a feature. The devastating flood in the Capital last year was also attributed to poor management of city drainage systems. President Dr Irfaan Ali last year during an impromptu visit to several city pumps revealed that there were indeed lapses. He found pumps turned off and attendants sleeping.

Following the PM’s comments, the Mayor and Councillors (M&CC) have gone on the offensive, dishing out accusations of their own; saying the PM is attempting to pull off a “smear campaign” against the opposition-dominated council.

While it has not directly responded to the revelations that pumps were turned off or that attendants were missing, the M&CC said that the taxes owed by state agencies and the outdated revenue systems continue to stymie the functioning of City Hall. It also spoke about how illegal construction works can threaten fragile drainage systems in the city.

It added that the “Municipality will do well if the Prime Minister can assure the citizens of Georgetown that the Government will desist from its adversarial approach to matters of the city and engage in collaboration and consultation”.


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